We’re thrilled to introduce you to WU contributor Juliet Marillier‘s newest book today, Raven Flight–the second book in her three-book Shadowfell series for young adults. If you’ve never read one of Juliet’s books, please do yourself a favor and pick up one or half a dozen of them ASAP. Juliet is a master wordsmith and world-builder, with characters you come to understand intimately and plots you’ll care about.
We’re also glad to announce that Juliet will be giving one signed copy of Raven Flight to one WU commenter–no mailing restrictions. Winner will be chosen in one week via a random number generator, and contacted via email for shipping address. Enjoy!
Q: What’s the premise of your new book?
Juliet: RAVEN FLIGHT is a sequel to my YA novel, SHADOWFELL, a story of young rebels attempting to topple a repressive ruler and restore their country of Alban to peace and freedom. Magic is outlawed in King Keldec’s realm, but if fifteen year old Neryn can evade capture and learn to use her canny gift as a Caller, she may be able to draw human and fey forces together to challenge the tyrant. In RAVEN FLIGHT Neryn travels out from the rebel base at Shadowfell, accompanied with some reluctance by the warrior Tali. Neryn must find the Guardians of Alban, elemental beings from ancient legend. Only they can teach her what she needs to know before the rebels run out of time. But the Guardians may not want to be found.
Q: What would you like people to know about the story itself?
Juliet: RAVEN FLIGHT follows Neryn and Tali as they make their journey across Alban (an imagined version of ancient Scotland) while trying to keep one step ahead of the King’s Enforcers. The Good Folk, Alban’s fey inhabitants, are sometimes cooperative, sometimes hostile. Neryn and Tali have little in common, and their relationship is tested severely by the hardships of the journey. Meanwhile the rebels’ spy at court, Flint, finds himself under suspicion. Events reach a climax at the king’s midsummer Gathering, where the depths of Keldec’s cruelty are publicly revealed.
Q: What do your characters have to overcome in this story? What challenge do you set before them?
As the lone traveler approached, the five Enforcers spread out in a line across his path. They waited in silence, a team of dark-cloaked warriors in full combat gear, astride their tall black horses…” Read an excerpt of Juliet’s novel HERE.
Juliet: My characters face huge physical challenges (how about being dumped on a rock off the Scottish coast with no food or fresh water?) and equally severe psychological tests. In particular, the SHADOWFELL books deal with issues of conscience. Is it ever OK to do things you know are wrong in order to serve the greater good? For a rebel spy like Flint, who has worked his way into the king’s trust over several years, maintaining his cover means he has to act in ways he knows are wrong. How much of that can a person take without being permanently damaged? How long can a person carry such a burden without cracking?
Q: What unique challenges did this book pose for you, if any?
Juliet: The dialect! My cast of fey characters (the Good Folk of Scottish folklore) all speak Scots dialect, and I had to get it consistent through the books of the series. I complicated things for myself by using three levels of Scots (broad, middling and light) and then had to check every fey character’s speech individually to make sure I’d got it right. There might still be a bittie error or twa. But it was great fun to do, especially as Scotland is my ancestral stamping ground.
Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of having written this book?
Juliet: Creating a story that I know will work just as well for adult readers as for young adults. While the main protagonists are young – Neryn is 15 at the start of SHADOWFELL, Tali is a couple of years older, and Flint and rebel leader Regan are in their early twenties – the story is relevant to older readers, and the writing is very much in the same mode as my novels for adults. And I loved tackling the theme of moral choices, and how hard it is to stay true to a cause when it means you lose almost everything, including your faith in yourself.
Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of Raven Flight!